GBHEM and Discipleship Ministries Renew E-Reader Agreement for the New Quadrennium
Executives from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) and Discipleship Ministries met on December 13, 2016, to sign a renewal agreement for the E-Reader Project which will expand the initiative between the two United Methodist agencies in the new quadrennium.
The new agreement will continue the inter-agency partnership through December 2020, making this the second consecutive quadrennium for the E-Reader Project. The renewed agreement will provide for the continuity of the work focusing on “e-readers for theological education.” However, the focus will expand to include three other areas: more support to local congregations in Africa; expansion to schools, colleges and universities; and an initiative on global health education.
E-Reader Project Overview
The E-Reader Project builds on a series of meetings in Africa during the 2008-2012 quadrennium, organized by GBHEM with the purpose of creating networks for both theological education and higher education. The meetings were part of a larger movement to promote global education with an emphasis on the African continent.
In the 2013-2016 quadrennium, Rev. Dr. Kim Cape, general secretary, GBHEM, and Rev. Karen Greenwaldt, former general secretary, Discipleship Ministries, signed an agreement committing GBHEM and Discipleship Ministries to implement the E-Reader Project. Various staff members, new hires, adapted structures, and resources were brought together for a pilot phase of the E-Reader Project initiated in Liberia in 2013. This pilot was concluded successfully, with the distribution of e-readers to five church leaders, 15 faculty members, and 80 students at Gbarnga Theological School in Liberia.
In 2015, a new agreement to expand the work done during the pilot phase and introduce support structures to guide new initiatives, was developed and discussed with staff from both United Methodist agencies. Cape and Dr. Tim Bias, former general secretary at Discipleship Ministries, signed a new agreement on August 22, 2015, thus reaffirming the commitment to support an inter-agency initiative.
In 2016, the E-Reader Project has distributed nearly 1,500 devices to 22 theological seminaries in Asia and Africa, loaded with publications in English, French, and Portuguese.
The Future of the E-Reader Project
With new leadership at Discipleship Ministries, the December 2016 meeting between the two agencies included of a full project overview, as well as strategic planning for the future, and the signing of a third agreement that extends the project to 2020.
The joint efforts of the GBHEM and Discipleship Ministries teams and their continual interaction throughout the last two quadrennia led to an encompassing plan for the E-Reader Project that includes strategic goals, objectives, actions steps, funding goals and immediate priorities. The plans and responsibilities for the new quadrennium were defined in the new agreement which was signed on December 13, 2016.
Attending the December 13 meeting on behalf of Discipleship Ministries were Junius Dotson (general secretary), Stephen Bryant, Robin Pippin and Scott Gilpin. Attending from GBHEM were Cape, Amos Nascimento and Beauty Maenzanise.
Funding for the E-Reader Project comes from annual conferences, local churches, individual donors, universities and a student fee each semester, which helps offset the price of the E-Reader and content. One hundred percent of the funds raised is used entirely for the acquisition and distribution of e-readers and e-books while the two general agencies cover the costs of staff, training, and travel. To learn more or donate online, visit www.umcereader.org.
About GBHEM: As the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s mission is to prepare global leaders for a global church and the world. Every elder, deacon and licensed local pastor benefits from our training and candidacy programs. Many young adults find help in clarifying their vocation and God’s call on their lives through our leadership and discernment programs. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.